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CSA Scores Safety Relatedness in Question by Inspector General

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After 2 years of irrelevant and inaccurate scoring models impacting carrier’s ability to haul freight, Congress has requested an audit of FMCSA driver CSA scores by the Inspector General. The House of Representatives Highways and Transit Subcommittee recently requested that the Office of the Inspector General audit the driver CSA scores to question the reliability, accuracy and significance of carriers’ CSA scores.

What is a CSA Score?

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) methodology and proposed changes are under examination for good reason. The premise of the program is to identify motor carriers with a higher risk of safety violations and crash involvement. Current scoring models based on paper work issues and modifications that continue to overlook crucial elements such as crash accountability are founded on a trucker’s guilt of unsafe driving until proven innocent.

What is Wrong With CSA?

Two major oversights of CSA/SMS are the lack of supporting evidence for the ratings and deficient crash accountability. The FMCSA has been asked multiple times by the American Trucking Association (ATA) and other agencies to provide documentation of the links between violations and crash risk used to validate their ratings. Any documented collision reduces a carrier’s safety score, possibly taking them off the road, regardless of driver responsibility. In July 2012, FMCSA released their “Crash Weighting Research Plan: Will crash weighting improve the capability of FMCSA to identify high crash risk motor carriers?” Results from this study will be released summer of 2013.

Some minor changes have been made over the years but did not include reconsideration of the weight of violations and their relationship to crash risk.  According to Transport Topics October 22 print edition, “Witnesses at the Sept. 13 [subcommittee] hearing raised concerns that a lack of adequate safety data, inappropriate weighting of violations and other scoring problems are causing CSA to erroneously label carrier safety performance,’ said the audit request letter from the congressmen.”  The questions in the audit seek a relationship between CSA compliance scores and real crash risk.

In order to protect carriers from unfair ratings and undue stress, Apex is supporting the Alliance for Safe, Efficient and Competitive Truck Transportation, (ASECTT). One of ASECTT’s primary goals is to eliminate the use of the FMCSA’s SMS methodology to unfairly rate motor carriers. Apex’s concerns regarding the negative impact of CSA/SMS scores under the current model are shared by other trade professionals who are actively working to address these issues. By working with the ASECTT, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) and transportation lawyer, Henry Seaton, Apex strives to protect and educate professionals in the trucking industry. To support efforts to bring necessary change to CSA/SMS, starting with removal of SMS scores from the FMCSA web site, please visit ASECTT.